How was it that in six years with him I had never understood the truth?
Even though I have been divorced for eight years, overcoming the shame of having experienced domestic violence has been difficult. More difficult has been my attempt to explain how it was that I didn’t know what kind of marriage I was in.
As so many articles and pamphlets state, victim-blaming is a problem. Asking “why doesn’t she just leave him?” is easier said than done. For some, it is too dangerous to leave. Others do not possess the resources to leave and support themselves and their kids.
And then there are women like me, women who are so beaten down that we believe we are causing the abuse and don’t know that we deserve better. Discovering I was not alone in the ignorance of my situation was both affirming and heartbreaking. There is no way to truly know how many silent victims are enduring domestic violence because they don’t know there is an alternative.
I am grateful to Naomi for helping me to see the truth. Her kindness has moved me to push through my feelings of shame and share my story. I can only hope my words might reach other silent victims and encourage them to envision a life in which they do not feel bad about themselves every day.
Written by Emily Withnall
Emily Withnall’s writing has appeared in High Country News, Mamalode, ZO Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly and Urban Campfire. She is currently at work on her graduate thesis, a nonfiction piece that examines the parallels between hydraulic fracturing and domestic violence.
Originally appeared on Yourtango.com
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